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Rub of the Green

April 19, 2008

Rub of the Green: Tiger should choose words more carefully

TERRE HAUTE — Tiger Woods should have been reminded of two important golf axioms last Sunday when he walked off Augusta National’s 18th hole. One, it’s bad karma to state publicly that winning golf’s Grand Slam was “easily within reach,” and two, when the magic in the putter is missing, you’re probably not going to visit the winner’s circle which is synonymous with Butler Cabin when you’re playing The Masters.

After Tiger drained a monster putt measuring 70 feet on the 11th hole, it appeared he was ready to mount another patented charge as his competition folded like wet newspapers. Then something unthinkable happened. Tiger’s usually dependable, rock solid putting touch deserted him and he staggered around the next six holes until an 18-footer on the final green found the cup.

By then it was too little, too late and Trevor Immelman’s eight-under-par 280 was good as gold and gave the South African a three-stroke victory in spite of a closing 75. His three over par effort tied the highest final round ever shot by a Masters’ champion.

Golf, like life, can be difficult to fathom. Near the time Woods was expressing his thoughts on annexing golf’s slam, Immelman was winning the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa. A week later, he was diagnosed with a tumor on his diaphragm that necessitated surgery through his back. Although the tumor was benign, he spent two months getting his golf game back in shape.

I’m certain Trevor Immelman went to Augusta without the slightest idea of winning a green coat. Golf is indeed a fickle game. In Tiger’s case, it’s always better to tell the press “how you did it,” rather than “how you’re going to do it.”

• • •

Immelman’s fellow South African, Gary Player, declares that Trevor’s swing is the best since Ben Hogan was in his prime.

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